“A Happy New Year,” by Francis Forrester (from Woodworth’s Youth’s Cabinet, January 1856, pp. 1-3)
A Happy New Year to you, my children! May blessings rich as love can give, numerous as snow-flakes, and enduring as the everlasting hills, descend gently on your unwrinkled brows, and fill your youthful hearts! May no sorrows poison the stream of your young lives, no misfortunes freeze your flowing spirits, no vices mar the beauty of your characters; but may innocent mirth well up within you, like the crystal waters from a fairy’s fountain,—jocund laughter dance merrily upon your lips, sunshine flash from your eyes, and goodness adorn your conduct forever! Such is my meaning, my children, when I wish you a Happy New Year. Huzza, then, for the glad, gleesome Happy New Year!
The New Year! Who does n’t love the New Year? True, Mr. January is a frisky youth, pouring mighty gusts of wind from his puffy cheeks into people’s faces, and bringing down clouds of snow-flakes from the sky with his mysterious wand, as if he wanted to be thought a great magician. Then he has icicles for eyelashes, and he wears a snow-wreath for a cap. Wherever he goes, the brooks and rivers do him homage. They cease to flow in his presence. They transform themselves into solid paths, along which he may march like a monarch enjoying a triumph. Besides all this, the young fellow acts the part of chief of police. He keeps everybody
moving on the state highway. “Move along!—move along! Quick!—stir yourselves!” he cries to every creature he meets: and he is so testy that, if he is not obeyed, he will sting the toes, bite the fingers, tingle the cheeks, and hang icicles on the noses of the disobedient. He means all this for frolic and fun; and so it is, if not carried too far, as it is sure to be if he is not obeyed.
But, notwithstanding all these odd tricks, who does n’t love young January? I would like to see the boy or girl who does not. He would be a curiosity; and I should be tempted to send him to some old curiosity-shop for exhibition. Why, you know that Mr. January has an old friend of children, named Santa Claus, or St. Nicholas, who always comes with him, crouching down, like an over-loaded donkey, beneath a load of pleasant nick-nacks for the boys and girls. Young January carries his friend all over the land, and sends him, by the way of chimneys, windows, or doors, into almost every house, with orders to leave some of his wonderful toys in every pair of stockings he may find on the chimney-piece. Then what fun there is every New Year’s morning, when the boys and girls peep into their stockings, to find out what the venerable and jocose St. Nicholas has been pleased to put there! And how many young hearts are made glad by these New Year’s Gifts! I love rollicking young January for this. Huzza, again, then, I say!—huzza for the glad New Year!
And old Sol, the monarch of the skies, loves him, too. That good old sky-king gets up earlier, and goes to bed later, every day, from the time young January first shows his little puffy face until he retires to his summer residence. Why he should do this, if he does n’t love him, it would puzzle a Philadelphia lawyer to tell. And I think I know why the sky-king loves him. Would n’t you like to know, too, Miss Laughinglips?
Listen! Put your ear close to my lips, and I will tell you! Young January brings a little bird with him, a beautiful little bird, prettier than humming-bird or bird of Paradise. This bird sings such a love of a song, in such a bewitching voice, that whoever hears it is charmed by it. As the charm works, the listener forgets his past sorrows, dries up his tears, sees beautiful visions of lovely landscapes and golden skies, grows young in heart and strong in purpose again, and is made very happy. Now, this little warbler young January sends into a hundred thousand homes, and bids him sing his song by a hundred thousand hearth-sides. Would you like to know the name of this dear little bird? It is Hope! Everybody
hopes in January, you know; and that is why the New Year brings with it so much of life, pleasure, and joy.
Well, I hear the little birdling’s song to-day, and I hope. I hope that you, my dear children, may all live innocently and happily through the year. I hope you will all grow wiser, better, more useful, more fit for heaven. I hope our magazine will be better, more beautiful, more amusing, more instructive than ever; and I hope that you will all continue to read its pages until you cease to be children. Once more, then, I wish you a Happy New Year! Once more let us say, Huzza for the glad New Year!